Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

was short. We were an unbroken circle at home at Christmas; and I left, with my secret undivulged, a few days before Christmas Day. But I ought to have told you that I had seen the Percivals frequently between these visits to Surrey. They were living then near London, the mother and daughter. Mrs. Percival had been a widow for some years, and I had talked to Mary a little about my admiration of the other Mary. Mary Percival was interested in the subject, and seemed often inclined to return to it. It was not a topic of conversation that I by any means objected to; but I didn't half enjoy it under the circumstances. There was something unlike herself about Mary, a certain constraint not to be concealed. It was not very noticeable; but I, who knew her so well, noticed it, or rather felt it, and was uncomfortable accordingly. At the same time I was perfectly sure that my friend was sincere both in the interest she expressed and in her manner towards me.


There was no affectation in Mary Percivalfar from it. Looking back from a later day upon the events and feelings of that time, I was more wise to know the truth. Then I was only a selfish man who was not a coxcomb. Let me see, where was I? I told you I went home before Christmas. I was entered at the Inner Temple then; and one day, early in the new year, I was alone in my chambers, when an idea, which had been a long time simmering, boiled and bubbled into a determination. was to write, to write, sir, to Mary Horner, and learn the worst or the best. Ah! I can jest upon it now. I wrote. The thermometer stood at twenty. There were blocks of ice in the river like horehound candy; but I let my fire out while at my absorbing task. I wrote. I have a bad habit of spoiling several sheets of paper when I write an important letter. I can show you a fac-simile of this, discarded because of the capital M's being of two varieties. There it is, read it."

This was the letter:

"London, Jan. 3rd. "MY DEAREST MARY,-I cannot call you by any other title and speak truly. Forgive me if the truth is distasteful to you. Forgive, too, this method of making it known. In all our happy association I have not dared-yes, that is the word-to tell you this. A faint heart,' you will say ; but the bright particular star always seemed so far above me.' These are calm words, dear, when my love is warm; these are cold words, when my heart is beating wildly. I would rather read my sentence, if it is to be banishment; but oh! I would ten thousand times rather hear it, if it has one

[ocr errors]

word of hope. Let me have but that word, and I will be with you. In any case, I feel that you will deal tenderly as well as truthfully with me. "Yours, devotedly, "FRANK."

"In that same hour," he continued, "I decided to tell Mary Percival of what I had done. There is a pretty accurate copy of my

letter to her." It ran thus :

"London, Jan. 3rd. “I know, dear Mary, that I do not look in vain for sympathy from you. I need it greatly to-day. You will believe this when I tell you what I have done. I have written to ask some one to give me her heart. Can you guess who it is? I am not hopeful, but I am not despairing. I cannot say more now than that in all my fortunes I am confident of your sisterly regard. "Yours, affectionately,


When I had read this without remark, Blundell went on with his narrative.



"I had finished these letters and folded them, when there was a rap at my door, followed immediately by the entrance of my opposite neighbour. Well, I never!' was his exclamation, are you out of coal?' I looked round upon the black grate for answer, having first put the letters into envelopes and fastened them. 'I came to see if you were inclined for a skate,' my visitor said. 'I tried the ice on the " Ornamental Water" yesterday it was pretty good. They say it is capital to-day; but come and have some lunch with me before we go. You are miserable here.' I accepted the invitation, and, wishing to get rid of him, said, 'You go and order it.' When he was gone, I directed the envelopes containing my letters, and followed him, taking them with me to post on my way to the Park. There were a great many skaters, and the ice was for the most part strong. But here and there, as is always the case except after a protracted frost, were weak places. On to one of these I skated at a rapid pace and went down, without a warning crack, into the bitterly cold water. The ice was above me when I rose, but I could hear voices near me before I sank again. I came up once more, but it was to feel a heavy blow, to be in an explosion of fireworks, and then to lose all consciousness. The clumsily-given aid was nearly being as fatal to me as the ice prison would have been. How I was carried home to my father's house, and suffered for many days from the combined effects of the plunge and the blow, I could tell

you only as it was told me. I was long unconscious, and for some time after the dangerous symptoms had abated I could take no notice of what was passing around me. I was gradually recovering, however, both physically and mentally; and one morning I became aware, upon awaking from a doze, that I was not alone. Some one had come in while I slept, and was sitting by my side. A soft hand was laid on mine, and, as I looked round, a gentle, well-known voice spoke. It was Mary Percival's. 'I am so thankful, dear,' it said; 'so very thankful.' I was still weak, and cried. She stooped and kissed my forehead. 'Bless you!' she whispered, and, with an arch smile, continued, 'It was a funny letter for you to write to me. Besides, I thought,'-she paused, looking at me. Then she said, 'I must talk to you about it another day, and scold you ; but thank you for it now a thousand thousand times! I came to give you my answer, and found you here. Oh, Frank! How could you be afraid of me? How could you doubt my love? But that is all past now, and I must not tire you even with my happiness. Goodbye, dearest.' And she went out very quickly, the tears blinding her.

"It is a shame to speak of this; but you are my friend, and it is necessary, if you are to understand my feelings. You can imagine them. What had come to me or to her? I scarcely heeded; I made no response to her words; but this she doubtless attributed to my weakened state; and when she left me I lay looking wonderingly at the door. At last a thought struck me. I rang my bell. It was answered by my mother. I asked her if there were any letters for me. She feared I was not equal to exertion, but went to fetch them. As soon as I was alone again I searched for one. I cared for only one. I found it. You shall see it in the original."

He handed me the letter. It was written in firm, clearly-cut characters, more Greek than " Italian," " and was as follows:

"Shallowford Rectory, Jan. 4th. "MY DEAR FRANK,-It was so kind of you to depend upon my sympathy. Be assured you have it. I do hope you will be accepted; but of course you will, and be immensely happy. You can't think how glad I was to hear about it. Do you know, I fancied, like a vain thing, that you were just the least bit in the world what Fred would call 'spoony' upon somebody here. I should have been so sorry-don't be angry-for Charles and I have been engaged the last two years. We have said nothing about it, except, of course, to papa and mamma; and the same post that brought your letter

brought one for him, offering him a long expected living. Now we hope to be married this year. Dear old Charley! he is so good.

I shall, we all shall, be anxious to know more from you. What weather! Fred is skating. He says of us, of Charles and me and you, Poor things! poor things!' We don't think so, do we? I hope some day to see and love your wife. I can guess who it is. I know you like the name of Mary. With good wishes from all of us for the new year, believe me, your sincere friend, "MARY HORNER."

Blundell was standing by me, looking over my shoulder, as I read.

"I took in the truth at once," he said. "Don't you?"

"Why," I gasped, "you had reversed the directions. I saw that at a glance, when you gave me this."

"Exactly! To say that I was not confounded-shocked at first,-would be untrue. How could it be otherwise? But in the calm reflection of succeeding days (for I was left in! quietness to gather strength) a feeling of satisfaction grew upon me, grateful satisfaction that I had escaped rejection-humiliation on the one hand, and the sorrow of inflicting useless pain on the other; that I had lost no friend, but had found a noble heart's great love. How I came to give my heart to Mary Percival I have no intention of describing. But I had done so before I told her everything-long before she became my wife. Then the letter she received but faintly expressed my love for her. We have been married four years, and each year has found us more loving, more happy. Now, old friend, you shall tell me what you think." I only quoted Hamlet's words,There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will.


G. R. T.

THE political life of Lord Palmerston has been longer than that of any statesman of the present century at home or abroad. That of Prince Metternich lasted 54 years, from 1794 to 1848; that of Count Nesselrode also the same number of years, viz., from 1802 to 1856; that of the Duke of Wellington little more than 45 years, dating from the time when he was Chief Secretary in Dublin to his death; that of Sir Robert Peel even less still. But Lord Palmerston entered the House of Commons in 1806, and has held office, with very slight intermissions, since 1807, or seven years more than half a century.

[merged small][merged small][graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

In this boudoir, so satin-soft,

Your smiles are mirror-multiplied; Rosette had but one glass, which oft The Graces might have held with pride. No curtains shadow'd o'er her brow;

The dawn her merry glances met. Ah! that I cannot love you now

As in those days I loved Rosette.

Your gifted mind, so brightly shown,
The poet-chorus well may lead ;
I do not blush the while I own

Rosette knew hardly how to read.
She had no words to tell me how

She loved love told her meaning yet. Ah! that I cannot love you now

As in those days I loved Rosette.

Than yours indeed her charms were less,
Even her heart less loving seem'd;
Nor had her eyes your passionateness
When they upon her lover beam'd.
But then she had, I must allow,

My youth- which I so much regret :
Ah! that I cannot love you now
As in those days I loved Rosette.



THE second Empire, which seems bent on renewing the whole of Paris, has just completed a work which has long been the talk of the idlers on the quays. A good while back the thickly inhabited houses of the Marché-Neuf, with bird-fanciers in the shops, and "dentists of the people" up aloft, displayed huge announcements of removal "by reason of expropriation." For many, many months the people's dentists, hanging grimly on to the molars of their unfortunate clients, drag them round other rooms. The strange foreign birds and sweet native songsters have long since ceased chattering and chirruping in their old haunts. Did any sagacious bird of them all, in quarters so different from its tangled forests or leafy woods, ever, with head knowingly on one side, speculate on the crowd which entered and left the door of the little dismal-looking building opposite, "somewhat in the style of a Greek tomb?" Why did they settle there? I never go through Seven Dials or the slums of Spitalfields without wondering why, fresh from pure air and bright country, birds always haunt the quarters where wretchedness and gloom most abound. But the notes that used to fall on one's ear on leaving that sad " museum of death" always jarred on me. What did birds there in that infected air, heavy with odours of death, and haunted by murder and despair and suicide? Perhaps when free their flight had been marked, their song listened to by one who now lay near, stretched on the cold slabs of the Morgue! What a neighbourhood to meet in! But they are all gone now. The sinister little building

for a long time stood alone against the parapet overlooking the river. It had become quite conspicuous through the demolition of the great block of houses near it; and now the dead, too, are expropriated." The Morgue, as if ashamed to confront the splendours of the Boulevard de Sébastopol, has filed behind the cathedral of Notre Dame. The new building has been erected on the eastern point of the "city," and is just now opened to the habitués.

When it became known that it was in contemplation to remove the Morgue, suggestions poured in on the subject of its site and alterations in its dispositions. One writer suggested "a building in the style of the mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, which it would be as well to surround with yews and cypresses; it might be masked by a row of weeping willows." It is needless to say that these and similar suggestions have been disregarded. Except in the important particular of the site of the new Morgue, the authorities have acted chiefly on the recommendations of M. Devergie, who for a long time past has been officially connected with it. The general arrangements of the new Morgue do not appear to differ greatly from those of the old one, which, perhaps, most of our readers have seen; at all events, we are told by a French writer that our countrymen used to be remarked there in great force, and were distinguished by their eager wish to visit the establishment in every part. As this was not permitted, let us initiate them into the mysteries of the Morgue, taking as our guides two gentlemen, Messieurs Devergie and Maillard, who have both in different ways devoted a great deal of attention to the subject.

The origin of the Morgue is not clearly traced, and its name, although this seems now satisfactorily accounted for, has given antiquarians a great deal of trouble. Readers of our old criminal cases may have met with an account, dated very many years ago, of the discovery of a murdered man's head, which, to facilitate detection of the crime, was forthwith placed on a post in the churchyard of St. Margaret's, Westminster, to be afterwards transferred, in a bottle of spirits, to the shop window of a doctor. To beginnings almost as rude is no doubt owing the establishment of the system which has culminated in the present Morgue. The word morgue was for merly a synonym of face. It appears to have been the custom, in the old Paris prisons, to set apart a small closet, into which a prisoner was made to enter on his arrival, and here he was visited by the gaolers, who took mental notes of his appearance; to this closet the name morgue came to be applied. It was afterwards transferred to a room in which were

« AnteriorContinuar »